Turning Cheap Voltmeters into I2C Displays

Voltmeter I2C Displays

[Tom] needed 8 displays for a project. He wanted to to control them over I2C, and was trying to reduce cost. Some vendors make I2C controllable seven segment displays, but they cost about $10 each. [Tom] figured he could hack cheap voltmeters to get the same results for about $3 a pop.

The voltmeters that [Tom] bought used a 8 bit STM8S003F3P6 microcontroller. He reverse engineered the device and re-created the schematic to find out where the I2C and programming pins would be. Then he hooked it up to a STM8 Discovery development board, which has an integrated programmer.

With the hardware figured out, it was time for new firmware. Fortunately, [ba0sh1] had already written firmware for a similar purpose which could easily be adapted. The code implements a software I2C slave, which reads data off the bus and displays it. It’s all available on Github.

The end result is a I2C controlled display for a third of the cost. Next time you need a bunch of these in a project, consider picking up some cheap voltmeters.

Lots of seven segment displays with a single ATtiny

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These days they’ve been replaced with character LCD displays or even brightly colored graphical displays, but if you’re trying to display data on one of your projects, there’s nothing like the classic red glow of a red seven segment display. [five volts] got his hands on a few ancient segmented displays, but controlling even one took up more microcontroller pins than he was ready to spare. The solution to this problem was to use a shift register and control multiple segment displays with an 8 pin microcontroller.

[volts] is using an ATtiny13 to control six seven segment displays. Each display is mounted on a hand-etched board, with a shift register and a handful of resistors soldered to the back. By having the microcontroller shift bits down the line, [volts] created an extremely easy to interface 6-digit segment display, and the entire device can be expanded even more.

The board files and schematics are available on [volt]’s project page. A great project if you’re just starting out to etch your own boards.

Drinking games and digital logic

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For those of you who might have forgotten, let’s go over the rules of Centurion. The object of the game is for every minute, for 100 minutes, drink a shot of beer. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but after completing the challenge you’ll have had 3 liters of beer (or about eight and a half 12 oz cans) in just under two hours. When [Peter] played Centurion, he found the biggest problem was – understandably – keeping track of the time and who drank what. For an upcoming weekend of drinking, [Peter] decided to solve this problem once and for all with shift registers and seven-segment displays.

[Peter]’s Centurion score box comes in two parts. The first and largest part of the build is the main board housing an ATMega8 microcontroller and a huge two digit seven-segment display to keep track of the countdown until the next shot. Two other boards house eight additional two digit seven-segment displays for each player, incremented every time a player presses a giant arcade button.

The entire build is designed around a small travel case that also holds a large battery for cordless drinking parties. Let’s just hope the project is reasonably water-resistant; we can see a lot of spills happening in the future. Check out the video demo below.

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Clock display taller than you is just what your living room has been missing

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Sure, it’s time to get the countdown clocks ready to ring in the new year, but why limit it to just one night? If you end up building a six-foot digital display you can count down trivial events; like the remaining seconds of freedom before you have to pimp yourself out in that drab cubicle.

This seven-segment display is homemade and boasts six full-sized digits and two smaller digits with each pair separated by colons. You have probably already guessed that the construction was greatly simplified by using LED strips rather than individual components. This is part of the reason for the size of the display. The strips can be cut, but only down to a minimum of 3 LEDs per segment. That explains the small digits, with their larger siblings doubled in size. But there is a benefit to this constraint, it means that current limiting is already taken care of for you.

The main assembly is a wooden frame surrounding two polycarbonate sheets. The LED strips are sandwiched between those sheets, with segment and digit driver buses exiting a one point on the side. The build doesn’t detail a driver for the display but it shouldn’t be hard to find a multiplexing example that will serve the purpose.

CMOS logic clock tracks 24-hour time

Here’s an IC logic project that displays 24-hour time. Planning was the name of the game for this project. [Mattosx] took the time to layout his design as a PCB in order to avoid the wiring nightmare when build with point-to-point connections.

Much of the complexity is caused by the display itself. Each of the six digits has its own binary-coded decimal chip and array of discrete resistors. Timekeeping is handled by six decade counters, two divider chips, one AND gate chip, and one OR gate chip. He chose a SOIC crystal oscillator chip as the clock signal. We’re more partial to the idea of using mains voltage as the clock signal.

[Mattosx] posted the board artwork if you’d like to etch your own 5″x8″ PCB. Just make sure you read through all of his notes as not all of the chips are oriented in the same direction.

[via Reddit]

Puncher tracks your freelancing hours, time spent in TSA patdowns

freelance-puncher

[Raphael Abrams] does a lot of freelance work, but he has trouble accurately keeping track of the hours he has put in for his clients. After trying various applications and methods of logging his time, he finally decided to build a device that worked just the way he liked.

He calls his device the “Freelance Puncher”, though it already has been nicknamed the detonator, as it looks like something you would find in the hands of a [James Bond] villain. The device uses a PIC16LF1827 to track the time, saving his logged hours to the built-in EEPROM when powered off. A pair of 7-segment displays are used to display the accumulated hours upon power-on, and a set of seven SMT LEDs separated into two banks keep track of quarter and hundreds of hours worked.

[Raphael] has made his code and schematics available on Github, so you can easily replicate his work if you are looking for a better way to track your time. We think it looks great, though it could be the sort of thing that traveling freelancers might want to keep in their checked luggage, unless they want to spend some quality time with the TSA! Be sure to stick around to see a short video where [Raphael] shows off and explains how his Freelance Puncher works.

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A simple, self-contained 7-segment display

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It’s no secret that seven-segment displays are an easy and useful way to relay data, so [Kelvyn Panici] decided to put together a minimalst, self-contained display for use around the house.

The display itself is a 16-digit model he picked up from DealExtreme for under $10. He wanted to find a microcontroller small enough to fit behind the display’s footprint, so he chose an ATtiny85 to control it. After mounting the mcu on a small piece of perfboard, he burned the Arduino bootloader and uploaded a small sketch to drive the display.

Things worked out quite well as you can see by the video below where he shows off a pre-perfboard prototype. [Kelvyn] currently does not have any immediate projects in the works that will utilize the display, though there are a plethora of possibilities. We think it would work great anywhere if it were fitted with a battery and some sort of wireless radio in order to make it completely self-contained.

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